Usual Back Pain vs. Osteoarthritis of the Spine

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Regardless the age factor – the damaged, weak, and stiff muscles are other causes behind back pain. Another major concern behind bad back is osteoarthritis (OA), a condition of when the cartilage in the joint wears away as the age. Typically, this joint problem affects joints of the knee (most commonly), hips, and spines (spinal column (backbone) extending from the skull to the lower back).

Is back pain a symptom of osteoarthritis in the spines?

Yes, it can be a sign of this joint disease. Many people with OA of the spine experience pain and other discomforts (such as stiffness) in the affected joint of the spine such as in the lower back (most commonly), upper /middle back, and neck.

image_illustration222In severe cases, the problem may be followed with other symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the arms or legs. All these symptoms usually relieves when you are lying down.

Spine itself is made up of 24 bones (small bones called vertebrae). Each of this bone is stacked and compiled on top of each other, this make a shape what we call as spinal column. And there is face joint located in each space between the ends of each bone. This face joint is crucial to join the vertebrae together.

An affected joint in the spine can disturb the stability, making the spine unstable. Though the cartilage damage is the main reason behind OA, but it may also lead to bone spurs (osteophytes) over time.

But the existence of back pain can be a signal of many different problems from mild to severe. And unfortunately, it is not always easy to find the underlying condition behind the problem since it can be multifactorial.

Even OA in the spine can work together with other conditions to cause discomforts (such as pain) in the lumbar region. For instances; fibromyalgia (another common cause behind back pain), psychological problems (anxiety and depression), and scoliosis can have contribution, too.

However if you think that you may have OA, some tests can help reveal the possible cause of the problem. See also the common procedures and tests to help diagnoses OA!

Back pain is a common problem, but …

If you have it, you are not alone. Even it is one of the most common problems in this modern living. About 8 out of ten people experience it at some point of their lives.

The severity can vary, from a mild dull to a sharp & sudden pain that can interfere with the daily routines. Many times, it relieves on its own even without any treatment, though sometime it may take a while to go.

It can last vary, from a few days to a few months. If it lasts longer than 3 months, it can be categorized into chronic back pain.

Although it is commonly considered harmless and will respond to lifestyle measures, but it may also get worse or points to the existence of certain health problem. If it lasts longer than what you think or doesn’t improve after resting or lying down – it should not be ignored!

See you doctor promptly, if you experience some of the following red-flag symptoms along with your back pain:

  1. High fever (higher than 100 degrees of Fahrenheit).
  2. The pain strikes to other areas of the body, such as pain in the chest, legs, and knees.
  3. Difficulty urinating.
  4. Poor in bladder or/and bowel control.
  5. Numbness in the buttock or/and genital areas,
  6. Weight loss without known trigger or cause.
  7. If you also have an injury /trauma in the back.

Preventive steps with lifestyle approaches

There are some options to help eliminate the risk of back pain. If you don’t have idea where to start, the following tips can help.


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